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Paul Jenkins

So, you are Mark Begich, a die-hard liberal Democrat in a red meat, conservative state chock full of beards and flannel shirts and folks with long memories.

You get the cut-rate eats in the U.S. Senate cafeteria only because of a convergence of cosmic weirdness. Crooked federal prosecutors itching to bag Ted Stevens, your GOP opponent in 2008, broke the rules to nail him as the election loomed. What a strange, lucky break for you...

Paul Jenkins

The Legislative Finance Division's unblinking look at Gov. Sean Parnell's budget is enough to give anybody the screaming heebie-jeebies, but only the brain dead have not seen it coming for years.

The division's analysis tells us what we already know: We spend too much, save too little, rely desperately on the next boom to save us and pretend everything will be just fine. It is, after all, what suffices for long-term fiscal policy in Alaska.

This time, though, the jig may be up.

"In just a few short years," the Finance Division report warns, "the bottom line fiscal question facing Alaska legislators has changed from "How much can we save this year?" to "How large is the deficit?"...

Paul Jenkins

Sarah Palin, the worst thing to happen to Alaska since the Spanish flu, managed only two major legislative accomplishments in her brief, tumultuous tenure as the state's chief executive and now -- thankfully and at long last -- both have been repudiated.

It has taken Alaska a long time to find its way back to square one from her disastrous two-year stint, but make no mistake, there are those who would return to that morass in a heartbeat.

Palin, in a single, misbegotten year, crafted a tax scheme guaranteeing future reduced North Slope investment and production -- and dwindling state revenues -- and she engineered a gas line licensing scam to block North Slope producers from building or controlling a large-diameter natural gas line they were expected to finance...

Paul Jenkins

Here's a surprise: The percentage of Americans who identify themselves as political independents is at an all-time high. If you believe the Gallup folks, something like 41 percent of the 18,000 or Americans they chatted up last year claimed that political non-affiliation.

The percentage claiming Republican DNA is at an all-time low -- 25 percent last year, the lowest in the past quarter-century.

Gallup says the increasing percentage of Americans who claim to be independents is costing Republicans more than Democrats. All that should be bothersome to the GOP -- and alarming. For the record, 31 percent confessed to being Democrats, a level stagnant for the past four years...

Paul Jenkins

With the new year, those desperate to return to a failed oil tax system that promotes a huge government rip-off will begin baying at the moon in earnest to get their way at the expense of Alaska's future.

Given their previous record, they will be more than willing -- even eager -- to fudge facts or spin their own. They like ever-bigger government and more spending, no matter the long-term economic wreckage.

The fight over implementing the new oil tax reform, Senate Bill 21, which finally fixed the Alaska's Clear and Equitable Share tax mess, was last year's hottest political story. The fight to keep that reform despite a Democrats-driven primary election referendum to repeal it could overshadow even this year's contentious U.S. Senate race...

Paul Jenkins

U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewel's rejection of a land swap that would have led to construction of a gravel track linking the remote Alaska Peninsula fishing village of King Cove to the all-weather airport at Cold Bay, some 20 miles away, was the federal government at its worst. Callous. Contemptuous. Dreadfully wrong.

Mind you, Jewell did not wield the crushing power of the government to block construction of a multilane, interstate highway through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, or to save lives. She killed a 9-mile, single-lane, gravel sliver barely 13 feet wide that would have linked with roads built on refuge land during World War II...

Paul Jenkins

It is painfully difficult, at times, to come to grips with people -- and how could it be any other way? We are weak, violent, too often stupid and capable of unimaginable cruelty and loathsome neglect. We murder each other over nothing; starve each other; enslave each other; we abandon or molest or kill our children and prey on the weak and different. If we do not, we tolerate among us those who do. There seemingly are no limits to our depravity.

Any honest evaluation would lead a rational person to conclude there is not much to recommend our survival. At least that is what I used to think...

Paul Jenkins

For just a nanosecond, a guy could sympathize with President Barack Obama. There he was, frozen in narcissistic hell by an unexpected photo, grinning like an errant schoolboy for a "selfie" with his pals while the world memorialized former South African President Nelson Mandela.

Who among us has not dorked it up at one point or another, ignoring even a mate's stony glare? It was, after all, just a light-hearted frolic with Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt and British Prime Minister David Cameron in Johannesburg, and who could blame him?...

Paul Jenkins

As we march in lockstep toward a social and political cataclysm and prepare to surrender one-sixth of our economy to bureaucratic whimsy in one of history's largest wealth-redistribution rip-offs, do you ever wonder what happened to this nation?

When did we become so woefully compliant? So weak? So eager to lick the hands of our masters? So incredibly stupid? When did we forget how to resist?

While we fretted about who was doing what in Hollywood, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, fundamentally changed not only health care, but America - to its core. It is no wonder our betters, fearful of an awakening, scramble to disarm us...

Paul Jenkins

It is another mega-dose of déjà vu all over again. A gas pipeline from the North Slope. Huge. Billions. Hope. Jobs. Finally. Yippee!

Is anything new under the sun?

This time, consultants say Alaska should consider investing billions to buy a piece of the action. It is not a new idea. State participation would brighten pipeline economics and spread risk, they say, but is it worth the gamble? Will the line be built anyway, with or without the state?

As North American gas prices have slipped, they skyrocketed in places such as Japan, which understandably is shying away from nuclear power. Natural gas demand is strong in Asia and is expected to grow in coming decades even as huge new fields come on line and others wane...

Paul Jenkins